I see that BlogHer is coming up this week.
No, Miss Nancy and I aren't going this year.
At both the 2009 and 2010 conference hotels there were real issues with handicapped accessibility, and Miss Nancy uses canes to walk short distances, a wheelchair and/or a scooter. Yes, mobility is an issue with her.
At BlogHer 2009 she only brought her wheelchair, and it was very difficult to get from one end of the conference to the other over alternating areas of tile and carpet and also to get to many of the meeting rooms, as access to elevators was blocked and attendees were directed to escalators instead. Yes, we went around barriers, as Nancy otherwise would have been unable to access them at all.
When we received our feedback surveys, we both made a point of stressing how difficult mobility was in the conference hotel, the ballroom and the vendor areas. We heard back nada.
For BlogHer 2010, we discussed making getting around easier, and Nancy was able to reserve a scooter through the conference hotel's concierge. That's the good part.
The bad part is that once again, level access to parts of the show hall were blocked off during the day, with the only access being via escalator. Furthermore, the show hall where all the vendors and exhibitors were located was on two levels, the second of which appeared to only be accessible via escalator.
No. You can't take a scooter on an escalator.
No one from Blogher had made any arrangements for handicapped access. One of their own staffers is handicapped and uses a wheelchair.
We went to the lobby to discuss the difficulty with the concierge, who referred us to the bell captain. We were then instructed to follow him... out the front door of the hotel, around the corner, down the street for a block and a half, through the loading dock... and onto the freight elevator:
We then followed him out of the freight elevator, past the garbage skiffs and vendor storage, past the curtains and out into the upper exhibit hall.
When we asked about getting back down, he told us we'd have to find someone to help, as we couldn't call the freight elevators by ourselves to get back to the main floor, and off he went.
A kindly security guy finally pointed us to the only "regular" elevator that would get us back to the main floor in the main portion of the hotel. Of course, it was conveniently located and marked:
And what's that sign Miss Nancy is reading?
Yup. Very convenient access -- not only for scooters or wheelchairs, but also for moms with mega-strollers that are more the size of an Airstream camper than the infant mobility devices that fold up to the size of a golf umbrella.
Furthermore, while I don't have pictures, once again the ballroom used for breakfast, lunch, dinners, awards and speakers was too small, with no room between the tables to maneuver. If there had been an emergency and we needed to get out of there fast, there would have been no way to maneuver a scooter in or out, and people would also have been tripping left and right over giant baby buggies.
Once again we were very vocal in our disappointment at BlogHer's inability and/or unwillingness to make sure all areas of the conference hotel were handicapped accessible.
Did we hear back from the kind and socially correct ladies of BlogHer? Hellz to the no.
Phooey on them. They can say all they want about making it an inclusive, feel-good experience. It's not so inclusive after all.